Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the Aughts

I almost always have a graphic or two to illustrate a post because I am a designer who "draws a box" around ideas whether it be writing, building websites or just playing around with tech to do things like BRT. For this post, I'll forgo graphics and put up a fairly short and incomplete list of musings to sum up my feelings about this most unsettled decade.
  • "W" - Words cannot describe besides nukeler
  • Pop music - All image, no music save exceptions like U2 & Leonard Cohen
  • US Bankruptcy - Brought to you by Rubin, Gramm, Summer & Geithner aided and abetted by the BA
  • 9/11 - All too many unanswered questions
  • Iraq - Wag the Dog writ large
  • Afghanistan - It's Obama's disaster now
  • Surveillance 24/7 - started by Bush, continued by Obama
  • Orwell - More relevant then ever
  • The Banksters - The real owners of the country
  • Heath Care - Not
  • Tech - The move toward nano marches on
  • Tech - Like nature, tech has no morality
  • Tech - Is advancing at double exponential rates
  • AI - More pervasive then ever
  • Robotics - Insects lead the way
  • ALife - A slippery slope to be sure
  • DNA Computing - Is becoming real
  • The Super Bowl - The ads no longer rock
  • The Web - The end of privacy, the rise of the Smart Planet
  • The Internet - The last bastion of Freedom
  • Science - Fiction yesterday, Fact today
  • Smart People - Never have a problem saying I don't know
  • Curiosity - Is the reason why creativity happens
  • The Art of War - Is timeless
  • Tao - Is also
  • Genius - Is the ability to see relationships and act upon them
  • Creativity - Applies to anything requiring thinking
  • Global Warming - Game changer to the max
  • Movies/Greatly edited - The best - Up, The worst - Battlefield Earth
  • Books - Too many to talk about but The Possibility of an Island comes to mind
  • Pro Sports - The land of the overpaid
  • Politics - The world of the bought and paid for
  • Democracy - The grand illusion of our times
  • Peak Oil - A concept not understood but it will be, soon
  • Hardware - The rise of Haptics is coming
  • Light Rail - A notion Obama doesn't understand
  • The Singularity - Beginning to take shape before our very eyes
  • The Fed - A cartel protected by government
  • Software - Getting better, getting cheaper
  • The Cloud - Computing as appliance
  • Open Source - Rules
  • 3D Graphics - Avatar is just the beginning
  • Physics - Stopping light is just the beginning
  • Biology - Computation and immortality beckons
  • Quantum Computing - The Matrix is just the beginning
  • Humanity - Is not ready for this
  • Earth - Doesn't need us
  • Thermodynamics - Everything has a cost
  • Information - "From It to Bit" - John Wheeler
  • Many Worlds - Is a notion who's time has come
  • Fractals - May be the TOE after all
  • OLED - Fahrenheit 451 comes to mind if you ask me.
  • The Media Merge - It's already here
  • The Web - Is becoming sentient
  • Obama - Change we can make believe in
  • Passivity & Sloth - The mantra of the US citizen
  • Creativity - Is within all of us if we have the courage to make it so
  • Excellence - Requires sacrifice, something to be avoided at all costs when instant gratification isn't fast enough
  • Experts - Anyone who says they are, aren't
  • The Future - Guessing is permitted, predicting isn't
  • Black Swans - Are everywhere
  • Luck - Is a very big deal
  • Chaos, Quantum Mechanics, Fractals & The Laws of Initial Conditions & Thermodynamics - Rule
  • Humor - A defining trait of man
  • Friendship - Without it, we are nothing
  • 2010 - The second decade of the 21st century looms...and, Happy New Year! :)

The Computing Surface

If Touchco's tech works as advertised, the era of the computing surface is here. I'm betting Apple's going to use this technology on their tablet. If not, the Microrsoft's of the world will as will the smart phone vendors . This is disruptive to the max. Note: Touchco is no longer in business but their take on haptics is absolutely the best so I am leaving the post in as reference. Robert E.
Any questions?

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Solar is almost here, finally, if Sandia Labs research pans out.

“Eventually units could be mass-produced and wrapped around unusual shapes for building-integrated solar, tents and maybe even clothing,” he said. This would make it possible for hunters, hikers or military personnel in the field to recharge batteries for phones, cameras and other electronic devices as they walk or rest.

Even better, such microengineered panels could have circuits imprinted that would help perform other functions customarily left to large-scale construction with its attendant need for field construction design and permits.

Said Sandia field engineer Vipin Gupta, “Photovoltaic modules made from these microsized cells for the rooftops of homes and warehouses could have intelligent controls, inverters and even storage built in at the chip level. Such an integrated module could greatly simplify the cumbersome design, bid, permit and grid integration process that our solar technical assistance teams see in the field all the time.”

For large-scale power generation, said Sandia researcher Murat Okandan, “One of the biggest scale benefits is a significant reduction in manufacturing and installation costs compared with current PV techniques.”

Part of the potential cost reduction comes about because microcells require relatively little material to form well-controlled and highly efficient devices."

The question to ask now is, is the US smart enough to build this tech here and not farm it out to places like China and India, countries that own over 90% of the solar market as we speak.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Dog...

The classic "My Dog Ate my Homework." excuse, updated. :)

Universal 3D

No doubt, universal 3D is coming to a browser near you if Deep Tech has anything to say about it. Standards are being implemented via WebGL and the major players are getting on board. When this tech is combined with html5, the fun will really begin as the difference between the cloud and the desktop will disappear, thus accelerating the move to a smart planet.

See RDF (RDF/W3) and OWL (OWL2) to see why.


Haven't seen the flick, (looks like a winner/have seen previews and know the story line) but I have questions, particularly about the hero being paralysed from the waist down in the year 2154. Already, nerve regeneration research is starting to show tangible results, something that will, in my opinion, become commonplace with the next 10/15 years, thus saving millions the pain and expense of paralysis. The same progress on organ regeneration also applies as seen by work done by various institutions like Pitt and Tengion which promise to revolutionize medicine in ways not understood by the hacks in congress trying to cobble together a health care bill that makes Frankenstein look like Barrymore.

Can't wait to see Avatar in 3D as Cameron appears to have created a new way to bring film to us in ways that literally must be seen to be believed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009


To see why math, computers, science and art rock, click on Skytopia's Mandelbulb and be amazed. Daniel White & friends create art that must be seen to be believed. Simply awesome work to behold.

To the Good Times

I won't belabor the point of Obama's flatbacking - again. Just read Matt Taibbi's incendiary Obama's Big Sellout to see why we are so screwed.

"Now here's where it gets really interesting. It's three weeks after the election. You have a lame-duck president in George W. Bush — still nominally in charge, but in reality already halfway to the golf-and-O'Doul's portion of his career and more than happy to vacate the scene. Left to deal with the still-reeling economy are lame-duck Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a former head of Goldman Sachs, and New York Fed chief Timothy Geithner, who served under Bob Rubin in the Clinton White House. Running Obama's economic team are a still-employed Citigroup executive and the son of another Citigroup executive, who himself joined Obama's transition team that same month.

So on November 23rd, 2008, a deal is announced in which the government will bail out Rubin's messes at Citigroup with a massive buffet of taxpayer-funded cash and guarantees. It is a terrible deal for the government, almost universally panned by all serious economists, an outrage to anyone who pays taxes. Under the deal, the bank gets $20 billion in cash, on top of the $25 billion it had already received just weeks before as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But that's just the appetizer. The government also agrees to charge taxpayers for up to $277 billion in losses on troubled Citi assets, many of them those toxic CDOs that Rubin had pushed Citi to invest in. No Citi executives are replaced, and few restrictions are placed on their compensation. It's the sweetheart deal of the century, putting generations of working-stiff taxpayers on the hook to pay off Bob Rubin's fuck-up-rich tenure at Citi. "If you had any doubts at all about the primacy of Wall Street over Main Street," former labor secretary Robert Reich declares when the bailout is announced, "your doubts should be laid to rest."

And this should tell you why we allow this crap to happen.

"I approach a woman named Pat Defillipis from Toms River, New Jersey, and ask her why she's here. "To protest health care," she answers. "And then amnesty. You know, immigration amnesty."

I ask her if she's aware that there's a big hearing going on in the House today, where Barney Frank's committee is marking up a bill to reform the financial regulatory system. She recognizes Frank's name, wincing, but the rest of my question leaves her staring at me like I'm an alien.

"Do you care at all about economic regulation?" I ask. "There was sort of a big economic collapse last year. Do you have any ideas about how that whole deal should be fixed?"

"We got to slow down on spending," she says. "We can't afford it."

"But what do we do about the rules governing Wall Street . . ."

She walks away. She doesn't give a fuck. People like Pat aren't aware of it, but they're the best friends Obama has. They hate him, sure, but they don't hate him for any reasons that make sense. When it comes down to it, most of them hate the president for all the usual reasons they hate "liberals" — because he uses big words, doesn't believe in hell and doesn't flip out at the sight of gay people holding hands. Additionally, of course, he's black, and wasn't born in America, and is married to a woman who secretly hates our country."

Believe in God, remain ignorant and let these bastards steal our money while destroying the country and the middle class without a care in the world. I voted for the "O"man even though, as George Carlin once said, "You don't have a choice." but I "chose" anyway. Ah George, I miss you big time but what the hell, I live by the mantra Change you can make believe in as this calms me down whenever I get stressed about the economic welfare of the good old USA.

"By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth." - George Carlin

Addendum: Let's not forget about Obama's drug flip-flop either...

And the beat goes on - The Whispers

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Game Changer

It wasn't supposed to exist. "The" Google Phone. Then we (and others) heard otherwise. And now, Google isn't just handing this "sexy beast" out to employees, they're going to sell it directly. Everything has changed...

Gizmodo's right and US Telcos are finally going to be pushed into the 21st century as telcos already have in other parts of the world (Asia, Europe, Canada etc., etc.) where competition rules and dictates to the customer and handset developers no longer apply. Finally, there's an unlocked phone loaded with power, elegance and with enough corporate gravitas that AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, among others, cannot ignore. Disruptive tech to the max. Let's hope the price point is spot on because if so, I'm buying one.

Click here to get Zdnet's viewpoint. Click here for Google's.

How Much Information...

"The average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words of information in a single day (excluding work information) -- 11.8 hours of information -- according to a report by the University of California, San Diego.

U.S. information consumption in 2008 totaled 3.6
zettabytes (10^21 bytes) and 10,845 trillion words."

What's rather interesting about this research is determining just how much this information weighs, a project BRT did for fun back in July, 2007 in a post titled A Dangerous Thing. In the piece, the estimated data produced by us would increase from 161 Exabites in 2007 to 988 in 2010 as per Baseline's Proforma, which equates, according to Discover Magazine's formula, to the size of a large pebble. Looking at's findings, it looks like Baseline's forecast was off by about 3.6 times as a zettabyte is equivalent to 1000 Exabites, thus increasing the size and weight of data generated to that of a large marble. To get more info about data overload, click here.

Note: This info covers only the US so the earth's entire data set might equate to the size of a small rock.

As seen by this factoid, it's rather obvious that predicting the future is impossible thanks to chaos, the law of initial conditions and quantum theory. To see BRT's take on this last statement, click here . If nothing else, you will learn about the Mayans and the myth of 2012. Enjoy. :)

Addendum: Check out this amazing paper titled Time & Space Time: The Crystallizing Block Universe by George F. R. Ellis & Tony Rothman as it explains, in elegant fashion, why prognostications about the future is a fool's game at best.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Seeing 20 20

Looks like robots will be seeing a lot clearer sooner thanks to graphics processors and a biological approach to coding.

"Using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), the same technology video game designers use to render life-like graphics, researchers are now making progress faster than ever before. A new study, co-led by David Cox, Principal Investigator of the Visual Neuroscience Group at the Rowland Institute at Harvard, and Nicolas Pinto, a Ph.D. Candidate in James DiCarlo's laboratory at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, was published in the November 26th issue of PLoS Computational Biology...

o tackle this problem, the team drew inspiration from screening techniques in molecular biology, where a multitude of candidate organisms or compounds are screened in parallel to find those that have a particular property of interest. Rather than building a single model and seeing how well it could recognize visual objects, the team constructed thousands of candidate models, and screened for those that performed best on an object recognition task.

The resulting models outperformed a crop of state-of-the-art computer vision systems across a range of test sets, more accurately identifying a range of objects on random natural backgrounds with variation in position, scale, and rotation.

Using ordinary computer processing units, the effort would have required either years of time or millions of dollars of computing hardware. Instead, by harnessing modern graphics hardware, the analysis was done in just one week, and at a small fraction of the cost.

"GPUs are a real game-changer for scientific computing. We made a powerful parallel computing system from cheap, readily available off-the-shelf components, delivering over hundred-fold speed-ups relative to conventional methods," says Pinto. "With this expanded computational power, we can discover new vision models that traditional methods miss."

To get the total picture to see why this research is so powerful, click on the PLOS Computational Biology graphic. You won't be sorry.

John Connor: Can you learn stuff you haven't been programmed with so you could be... you know, more human? And not such a dork all the time?
The Terminator: My CPU is a neural net processor; a learning computer. But Skynet pre-sets the switch to read-only when we're sent out alone.
Sarah Connor: Doesn't want you doing too much thinking, huh?
The Terminator: No.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Did the Deed.

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


In their study, Seth Marvel, Steven Strogatz, and Jon Kleinberg from Cornell University have used theories from social psychology to classify certain configurations of friends and enemies as being more stable than others. They show that these configurations can be represented by an energy landscape, in which the overall social stress corresponds to a kind of energy that relaxes as relationships shift between friends and enemies.

In their model, the researchers used plus signs to represent friendships between two individuals, and minus signs when two individuals were enemies. Some configurations in a group were considered balanced, while others were unbalanced. For example, in a balanced configuration, the enemy of your enemy should be your friend, and the friend of your enemy should be your enemy. In the scientists’ model, these balanced configurations require less energy to maintain, and are the global minima in the energy landscape. The configurations of lowest possible energy are those in which all pairs in the network are friends, or in
which the network is divided into two “rival factions”: two groups of mutual friends who are antagonistic toward each other.

The ability to objectify the communicative process among warring parties via physics shows a new and sophisticated way to deal with some of the most difficult issues facing man today as this approach systematizes how individuals and social groups interact with each other at deep level. Perhaps this innovative approach to resolving personal and political strife should be tried prior to committing precious resources to questionable military adventures like Iraq & Afghanistan because a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

For greater detail into this amazing research, click here.

Addendum. Click on the image above to check out how neuroscientists are looking at the brain's mirror neurons and how they impact the social world of man. Pretty amazing research that supports, in empirical fashion, the energy landscape of interpersonal communications of groups and individuals.

"Such interactions are a feature of many aspects of everyday life. They come to the fore when people play music, so in one of our experiments we got two people to tap a simple beat together. You might expect a leader and a follower to emerge, with the leader trying to maintain the beat, while the follower synchronises with the leader. Our twist was to also study what happened when each person could only hear the other, but not him or herself. No leader emerged: both players became followers, continually and mutually adjusting their taps to each other."

Sounds like Jazz doesn't it. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

In the Land of Custer

Normally I don't talk about US policy except through the lens of tech but the perceptive article from the NY Times titled Taliban Open Northern Front in Afghanistan compells me to say something about futility, George Armstrong Custer and why Afghanistan is a loss leader along the lines of 'Nam.

For starters, the Taliban don't have to win, just persevere. The US will not be in Afghanistan forever so just showing up is enough. Afghanistan is a huge country, inhospitable to occupiers as seen throughout history via defeats placed on Alexander the Great, the British and the Russians. Now it's our turn and Obama and the military just don't get it. To top it off, we are contemplating negotiating with the Taliban while trying to root out e-Qaeda, the terrorist organization which may or not be even a force in this war torn nation and who may be supporting the Taliban, the erstwhile enemy/collaborator? that we may or may not be fighting against in Afghanistan as both organizations consist of fanatical Sunni Muslim operatives. Note: We haven't even discussed the corrupt US backed Karzi government which is distrusted by a large segment of Afghans, a situation eerily reminiscent of the distrusted South Vietnam government backed by the US during the Vietnam war. Note II: We won't discuss the economic impact either as the defense budget already is almost 700 billion this year and counting while the US shuffles toward bankruptcy and Wall Street takes in 13 trillion of tax payer money. Same as it ever was - Talking Heads.

Alice in Wonderland
has nothing on this hall of mirrors which includes the ongoing undeclared war with Pakistan designed to 1. minimize the influence of the Taliban in that nation while negotiating with the same entity in Afghanistan and 2, destroy e-Qaeda base camps located in the hinterlands of West Pakistan through the use of remote control Predator Drone attacks that often kill innocent civilians in the process. Makes sense doesn't it?

Bill Moyers' seminal piece Johnson's Escalation of Vietnam: A Timeline, says it all but maybe Obama doesn't see or realize the fact that "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." - Sir Winston Churchill

After reading the Washington Post piece titled Newly deployed Marines to target Taliban bastion, it appears Obama has little problem with Churchill's comment.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Through a Glass Darkly

Bill Moyers, a national treasure, does it again by looking back at US policy in the 60's regarding Southeast Asia titled Johnson's Escalation of Vietnam: A Timeline, something eerily akin to what Obama is doing regarding Afghanistan. Read Danny Schecter's perceptive article titled Bill Moyers' Message to Obama: Study History or Repeat its Mistakes to see why,

On his Journal, Moyers went back to the historical record, to selected but revealing tapes of Johnson's own phone calls with his colleagues and appointees-yes he wiretapped himself the way Nixon did years later-and those calls showed how he agonized over whether to escalate the war, a course of action he knew could not succeed. The parallels with the present day, and the upcoming decision by President Obama to escalate the war in Afghanistan are unmistakable and undeniable.

There was the cunning LBJ boiling down the options to getting out or going in deeper, or perhaps "neutralizing" the situation with trainers and economic aid. He, of course opted for the third choice at first-just as Obama has-until it was clear it was not working and we and that our corrupt client state was losing. As his perceived options narrowed, so did his course of action.

As Republicans then demanded "victory," as the military (The Joint Chiefs) clamored for a higher draft and more troops, LBJ began to fear being accused of tucking tail and running, a big no-no in a culture in which Americans see themselves as perpetual winners, the toughest guys on the block. He could not, in his view, be the President who "lost" Vietnam the way his predecessors were accused of losing China-as if those countries were ours to lose!

And so slowly-as we saw, or rather hear, Johnson escalated, stage by stage, often on the basis of false "intelligence" as in the Tonkin Gulf incident that wasn't. Step by step, the third option was abandoned and the military option was embraced. One infusion of troops was followed by another as the war worsened with tens of thousands of US deaths and casualties and millions of Asian victims.

Trapped by his own limited logic, and cautiously pragmatic style. LBJ gave up his principles, compromised on his convictions, and his "Great Society" and Presidency became a disaster. He later quit politics, a broken man.

Will it happen again?

Moyers clear point in the poorly watched PBS Public Affairs Friday Night Ghetto was clear-it is about to happen again.

"We will never know what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson said no," he concluded. "We do know what happened because he said yes."

It was brilliant television, informative journalism of the kind we rarely see, all driven by the words and voice of the man who was once his own "boss." We saw how the logic of escalation supplanted all other logic and, then, logic itself.

The tragedy of 'Nam was not only the needless deaths it caused but also how it crippled the funding of Johnson's Great Society initiative intended to change America for the better by instituting innovative programs to effectively deal with the problems of racism, poverty, education and health care in the same can do attitude as that of FDR during the Great Depression.

Hopefully Obama will read War is a Racket by Smedley Butler before it's too late.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pirate Finder General

Copyright in the UK will resemble the dictatorial government V fought against in the V for Vendetta film as this effort to control information can be the start point for dictatorship in England. At the very least, the UK will lose big time in terms of the web because no one will want to do business in a place where surveillance is king and power goes to the unelected. Sounds like 1984 and the Thought Police doesn't it?

A source close to the British Labour Government has just given me reliable information about the most radical copyright proposal I've ever seen. Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament. These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson -- or his successor in the next government) the power to make "secondary legislation" (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright. Mandelson elaborates on this, giving three reasons for his proposal:

1. The Secretary of State would get the power to create new remedies for online infringements (for example, he could create jail terms for file-sharing, or create a "three-strikes" plan that costs entire families their internet access if any member stands accused of infringement)

2. The Secretary of State would get the power to create procedures to "confer rights" for the purposes of protecting rightsholders from online infringement. (for example, record labels and movie studios can be given investigative and enforcement powers that allow them to compel ISPs, libraries, companies and schools to turn over personal information about Internet users, and to order those companies to disconnect users, remove websites, block URLs, etc)

3. The Secretary of State would get the power to "impose such duties, powers or functions on any person as may be specified in connection with facilitating online infringement" (for example, ISPs could be forced to spy on their users, or to have copyright lawyers examine every piece of user-generated content before it goes live; also, copyright "militias" can be formed with the power to police copyright on the web)

Mandelson is also gunning for sites like YouSendIt and other services that allow you to easily transfer large files back and forth privately (I use YouSendIt to send podcasts back and forth to my sound-editor during production). Like Viacom, he's hoping to force them to turn off any feature that allows users to keep their uploads private, since privacy flags can be used to keep infringing files out of sight of copyright enforcers.

The dark side of the Darknet beckons if the Brits actually attempt to control the flow of information by doing something as stupid and scurrilous as this. If people let this happen, V's speech regarding the loss of freedom could come to pass.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Every once in a while an article comes out that answers a question I have had in my mind for years. The question: How can insects think with such power when their brain size is miniscule at best? Now I know thanks to a post on Current Biology titled Are Bigger Brains Better?

Attempts to relate brain size to behaviour and cognition have rarely integrated information from insects with that from vertebrates. Many insects, however, demonstrate that highly differentiated motor repertoires, extensive social structures and cognition are possible with very small brains, emphasising that we need to understand the neural circuits, not just the size of brain regions, which underlie these feats. Neural network analyses show that cognitive features found in insects, such as numerosity, attention and categorisation-like processes, may require only very limited neuron numbers. Thus, brain size may have less of a relationship with behavioural repertoire and cognitive capacity than generally assumed, prompting the question of what large brains are for. Larger brains are, at least partly, a consequence of larger neurons that are necessary in large animals due to basic biophysical constraints. They also contain greater replication of neuronal circuits, adding precision to sensory processes, detail to perception, more parallel processing and enlarged storage capacity. Yet, these advantages are unlikely to produce the qualitative shifts in behaviour that are often assumed to accompany increased brain size. Instead, modularity and interconnectivity may be more important.

After reading this amazing piece, one readily understands that efficiency of brain configuration is often of greater consequence than size, something also seen in the extraordinary intelligence of parrots as seen in a earlier BRT post titled Alex, we hardly knew ye.

Not only was Alex smart, (he understood colors, categories and numbers) he also was easily bored if the experiments he participated in were not up to snuff in challenging his intellect.

Seen below is another graphic from the CB writing showing how body mass is a predictor of brain mass in animals.

As follow up, check out Physorg's perceptive take on the CB posting.

Chittka says: "In bigger brains we often don't find more complexity, just an endless repetition of the same neural circuits over and over. This might add detail to remembered images or sounds, but not add any degree of complexity.

To use a computer analogy, bigger brains might in many cases be bigger hard drives, not necessarily better processors."

This must mean that much 'advanced' thinking can actually be done with very limited neuron numbers. Computer modelling shows that even consciousness can be generated with very small neural circuits, which could in theory easily fit into an insect brain.

In fact, the models suggest that counting could be achieved with only a few hundred nerve cells and only a few thousand could be enough to generate consciousness. Engineers hope that this kind of research will lead to smarter computing with the ability to recognise human facial expressions and emotions.

“Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.” - Alan Turing

Monday, November 16, 2009


Kinda looks like the end scene of the Matrix Reloaded flick (The 2 sequels pale in comparison to the first film but the CG's cool.) where Neo confronts the Architect of the Matrix only to discover he is "The One No. 7", a pawn intended to be used as an agent of deception "to save mankind" in order for the Matrix, a quantum system of unimaginable power, to continue using humanity as prime energy source without interruption or interference. (This is the best part of the movie IMHO.)

Needless to say, we are not there yet in terms of quantum computing and artificial intelligence but we now are seeing, for the first time, a viable emergence of the semantic web in the form of the MESH project, (Multimedia Semantic Syndication for Enhanced News Services) the first search engine capable of using the Media Merge (video, text, images & sound) to enable machines to locate content in ways beyond the present day (dumb) search environments of Google and Bing. (No doubt, both are looking into semantics in a very big way.)

"European researchers have created the first integrated semantic search platform that integrates text, video and audio. The system can 'watch' films, 'listen' to audio and 'read' text to find relevant responses to semantic search terms. At last, computers are able to look for meaning in our multimedia searches...

But European researchers in the MESH project have developed an integrated platform which they say, for the first time, can combine semantic search -- or search by the meaning of the words -- and a host of associated tools to deliver more relevant information, from a wide variety of sources that can be accessed from an individual user.

The platform can search annotated files from any type of media -- photographs, videos, sound recordings, text, document scans -- using a host of techniques including optical character recognition, automated speech recognition and automatic annotation of movies and photographs that track salient concepts."

BRT talked about this from the perspective of OWL and RDF in The Semanatic Web Cometh, a piece discussing how formats and data transparency combined with the aforementioned languages presages an age of computers accessing data as easily as us. Now, the MESH Project is moving this tech into a reality space we are accustomed to, the world of multimedia connected to high end presentation.

If that isn't enough, consider the image based search engine from VizSeek...

VizSeek is one of the first search engines on the Internet to use a photograph, a 2D image, or a 3D model and transform it into a 3D shape. The search can be narrowed with additional information. The image-seeking search engine produces search results in a matter of seconds.

Reality is a web of transactions, the key is to find the appropriate transaction that fits the need of the user. - RM

Sunday, November 15, 2009


There's a terrific New York Times article on Dreaming titled A Dream Interpretation: Tuneups for the Brain that appears to tie in nicely with the theory of sleep, a subject covered by BRT titled, The Meaning of Sleep where researchers likened sleep as a process akin to defragging a disk ...

As posted online September 11, 2009 by Nature Neuroscience, György Buzsaki, professor at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Newark, and his co-researchers, Gabrielle Girardeau, Karim Benchenane, Sidney I. Wiener and Michaël B. Zugaro of the Collége de France, have determined that short transient brain events, called “sharp wave ripples,” are responsible for consolidating memory and transferring the learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex, where long-term memories are stored.

In the Times article ... Dr. J. Allan Hobson, a psychiatrist and longtime sleep researcher at Harvard, argues that the main function of rapid-eye-movement sleep, or REM, when most dreaming occurs, is physiological. The brain is warming its circuits, anticipating the sights and sounds and emotions of waking.

“It helps explain a lot of things, like why people forget so many dreams,” Dr. Hobson said in an interview. “It’s like jogging; the body doesn’t remember every step, but it knows it has exercised. It has been tuned up. It’s the same idea here: dreams are tuning the mind for conscious awareness.”

Sounds like booting up a computer to me.

Addendum: The real importance of this research deals with mental illness and how the diseased brain deals with reality:

"Researchers have a way to go before they can confirm or fill out this working hypothesis. But the payoffs could extend beyond a deeper understanding of the sleeping brain. People who struggle with schizophrenia suffer delusions of unknown origin. Dr. Hobson suggests that these flights of imagination may be related to an abnormal activation of a dreaming consciousness. “Let the dreamer awake, and you will see psychosis,” Jung said."